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Provincial budget cuts will eliminate 760 child care subsidies in Toronto: report

WATCH ABOVE: A new City of Toronto report details the loss of hundreds of child care fee subsidies for low-income families in due to Provincial budget cuts. On Tuesday, members of City Council called on the Ford Government to reverse the cuts. Matthew Bingley reports.

A new City of Toronto report details the loss of hundreds of child care fee subsidies for low-income families due to Provincial budget cuts.

The report before the Economic and Community Development Committee revealed the impacts to the city due to a change in funding structure from the provincial government.  Child care expansion was previously funded entirely by the province, but it announced in the spring it would only fund 80 per cent at the beginning of 2020.

In Toronto’s case, provincial expansion funding will be cut by about $15 million in 2020, from $74.9 million to $59.0 million. The city report said the loss of funding could mean the reduction of approximately 760 child care fee subsidies in 2020.

READ MORE: Election 2019: Toronto parents want more child care commitments from federal parties

On Tuesday, members of City Council and several child care advocates spoke out against the cuts. “Child care is already unaffordable in our city and because of Doug Ford’s cuts, it’s about to get worse” said coun. Joe Cressy. He urged the Ford government to reverse the cuts.

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There are currently more than 30,000 low-income children benefiting from child care subsidies said Cressy, noting 17,000 more remain on a waitlist. Cressy said Toronto currently has 37,000 child care positions and is in need of 40,000 new spaces over the next decade.

The report comes following a period of uncertainty over the planned expansion of several locations.

Previously, the provincial government said it would only proceed with $87 million in previously-approved school-based programs representing more than 3,000 spaces.

But an April 26, 2019 memo from the Ministry of Education said it would only proceed with funding if system managers could confirm they would fund operating budgets for those projects.

READ MORE: Ontario child-care advocacy says municipalities getting at least $80M less for child care

Progressive Conservative MPP Stan Cho disputed the City of Toronto’s figures, saying the province has committed hundreds of millions in funding that will go toward child care funding in Ontario.

“I’m not sure where the $15 million comes from because multi-year planning is a process that’s on-going as we speak, so Minister Lecce has not determined any numbers yet,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a cart before the horse.”

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Fifty-one projects in Toronto required decisions on whether they would proceed before an Aug. 30 deadline. The City’s Child Services department said it didn’t have enough time to confirm these projects with school boards. City Council requested an extension from the province and was given until Oct. 31.

Children’s Services has now determined that 49 projects should proceed, with the assumption the school boards continue to agree.

“Going forward, [the province] will no longer fund the operating dollars for those centres,” said Cressy. He said 49 child care centres, including three in Premier Doug Ford’s riding, will be short the money needed to operate.

“That will total $34 million once those are all opened every year in cuts going forward,” he said.